Grilled Vegetables

A Jubilant July Picnic at Coastal Maine’s Mead Meadow

Part 3: Portobello Cheese Burgers and Grilled Vegetables

 Photos by Michael Marquand  Recipes by Marilinda Hodgdon  Welcome to Part 3 of our Southern Maine picnic, inspired by the glorious fresh bounty of summer by the sea. In the last post I expounded the virtues of two delectable seafood appetizers to go with Part 1’s sparkling sangrias; Fresh oysters on the half shell with chive, cucumber and pink peppercorn mignonette, plus crostini of lobster and pea purèe with Amontillado Hollandaise sauce. In this post I present my vegetarian main course of Grilled Portobello Cheeseburgers with Baby Arugula, Avocado Herb Mash and Pickled Red Onions accompanied by Grilled Asparagus, Leeks and Fennel with Moroccan Spiced Corn on the Cob.  The star of our main event, Portobello Burgers, are all dressed up with  everywhere  to go! Their giddy grilled vege entourage is ready for a party night. Let’s go behind the scenes for an up-close and personal look at the making of the tantalizingly tasty oh-so-umami burgers. The magic is in the marinade!

Photos by Michael Marquand

Recipes by Marilinda Hodgdon

Welcome to Part 3 of our Southern Maine picnic, inspired by the glorious fresh bounty of summer by the sea. In the last post I expounded the virtues of two delectable seafood appetizers to go with Part 1’s sparkling sangrias; Fresh oysters on the half shell with chive, cucumber and pink peppercorn mignonette, plus crostini of lobster and pea purèe with Amontillado Hollandaise sauce. In this post I present my vegetarian main course of Grilled Portobello Cheeseburgers with Baby Arugula, Avocado Herb Mash and Pickled Red Onions accompanied by Grilled Asparagus, Leeks and Fennel with Moroccan Spiced Corn on the Cob.

The star of our main event, Portobello Burgers, are all dressed up with everywhere to go! Their giddy grilled vege entourage is ready for a party night. Let’s go behind the scenes for an up-close and personal look at the making of the tantalizingly tasty oh-so-umami burgers. The magic is in the marinade!

 First we must gather the  Burger Build Components,  some of which we can make ourselves. The recipes make 12 servings, but you can adjust the numbers for your own party needs.  · Portobello Mushrooms Caps-3-4 inch diameter by 1-2 inch high  · English Muffins  · Plu gras butter – softened at room temperature  · Baby Arugula Lettuce  · Havarti Cheese Slices  · Pickled Red Onions  · Avocado Herb Mash  You will want to make the Pickled Red Onions first, to give them time to rest and cool before they are called for their close-ups.

First we must gather the Burger Build Components, some of which we can make ourselves. The recipes make 12 servings, but you can adjust the numbers for your own party needs.

· Portobello Mushrooms Caps-3-4 inch diameter by 1-2 inch high

· English Muffins

· Plu gras butter – softened at room temperature

· Baby Arugula Lettuce

· Havarti Cheese Slices

· Pickled Red Onions

· Avocado Herb Mash

You will want to make the Pickled Red Onions first, to give them time to rest and cool before they are called for their close-ups.

  Pickled Red Onions    Ingredients   · 2 Small red onions, sliced into thin crescents  · 1 Cup of pomegranate juice  · ½ Cup of red wine vinegar  · ¼ Cup of honey  · ½ Teaspoon yellow mustard seeds  · ½ Teaspoon coriander seeds  · ¼ Teaspoon   sea salt  · 4 Juniper berries   Directions    1.  Bring the liquids and spices to a boil   2.  Lower the heat to a simmer and add the onions   3.  Cook for 5 minutes or less until just tender   Let cool - The onions will continue to soften while the mix cools   Next, prepare the mushroom caps for their marinade soak and subsequent grilling. You can use a charcoal or wood grill, gas grill or frying pan. Whatever is best for you, or easiest, will work. A wood fire adds a nice earthy smoky flavor component, but these babies are bursting with so much flavor that you will be thrilled either way you do it.

Pickled Red Onions

Ingredients

· 2 Small red onions, sliced into thin crescents

· 1 Cup of pomegranate juice

· ½ Cup of red wine vinegar

· ¼ Cup of honey

· ½ Teaspoon yellow mustard seeds

· ½ Teaspoon coriander seeds

· ¼ Teaspoon sea salt

· 4 Juniper berries

Directions

1. Bring the liquids and spices to a boil

2. Lower the heat to a simmer and add the onions

3. Cook for 5 minutes or less until just tender

Let cool - The onions will continue to soften while the mix cools

Next, prepare the mushroom caps for their marinade soak and subsequent grilling. You can use a charcoal or wood grill, gas grill or frying pan. Whatever is best for you, or easiest, will work. A wood fire adds a nice earthy smoky flavor component, but these babies are bursting with so much flavor that you will be thrilled either way you do it.

 Photo by Angela Olsen Mathews   Magic Marinade    Ingredients   · 1 Cup olive oil  · ¼ Cup Balsamic vinegar  · 1 Tablespoon toasted sesame oil  · ½ Teaspoon sea salt, or to taste  · ½ Teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste   Directions   1. Whisk all of the ingredients together     Portobello Mushroom Caps    Ingredients   · 12 semi open Portobello Caps that slightly overhang the English muffins   Tip: If the mushrooms are completely opened they will be very flat with a less appealing finished look on the burger sandwich. Use the leftover mushroom stems in your morning omelet.    Directions   1. Clean the dirt from the mushroom caps being careful to  avoid  getting the gills wet.   2.  Brush both sides of Portobello mushroom caps with marinade.  3. Let them rest for 15 minutes.   4.  Prepare the rest of the components  before  you cook the mushroom caps.   5.  Grill the rounded side on medium heat until tender, 3 minutes.   6.  Flip the cap to the gill side and add a slice of Havarti cheese slice to the round side.   7.  Cook for another minute or less. Do not let the cheese get too melted. It will continue melting after it is off the heat.  8. Place the cheese-covered caps onto a plate and place in your building station.  The next step is to prepare the Avocado Herb Mash.

Photo by Angela Olsen Mathews

Magic Marinade

Ingredients

· 1 Cup olive oil

· ¼ Cup Balsamic vinegar

· 1 Tablespoon toasted sesame oil

· ½ Teaspoon sea salt, or to taste

· ½ Teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste

Directions

1. Whisk all of the ingredients together

Portobello Mushroom Caps

Ingredients

· 12 semi open Portobello Caps that slightly overhang the English muffins

Tip: If the mushrooms are completely opened they will be very flat with a less appealing finished look on the burger sandwich. Use the leftover mushroom stems in your morning omelet.

Directions

1. Clean the dirt from the mushroom caps being careful to avoid getting the gills wet.

2. Brush both sides of Portobello mushroom caps with marinade.

3. Let them rest for 15 minutes.

4. Prepare the rest of the components before you cook the mushroom caps.

5. Grill the rounded side on medium heat until tender, 3 minutes.

6. Flip the cap to the gill side and add a slice of Havarti cheese slice to the round side.

7. Cook for another minute or less. Do not let the cheese get too melted. It will continue melting after it is off the heat.

8. Place the cheese-covered caps onto a plate and place in your building station.

The next step is to prepare the Avocado Herb Mash.

  Avocado Herb Mash    Ingredients   · 1 Ripe avocado  · ½ Lemon for juicing  · 2 Tablespoons of chopped chives  · 2 Tablespoons of minced fresh Italian parsley  · ½ Teaspoon freshly ground white pepper  · Pinch of sea salt to taste   Directions    1.  Mash the avocado with the lemon juice, leaving at bit of chunky texture.  2. Add the herbs and spices into mashed avocado and mix well.  Wash and dry the baby arugula and prepare the English Muffins to get ready for your build.     English Muffins   · 12 English muffins  · 2 Sticks or ½ pound softened (room temperature) European Style Plu Gras Butter   Tip: I sometimes use 1:1 unsalted:salted, depending on how salty you make the rest of your ingredients.   Grill the mushroom caps.

Avocado Herb Mash

Ingredients

· 1 Ripe avocado

· ½ Lemon for juicing

· 2 Tablespoons of chopped chives

· 2 Tablespoons of minced fresh Italian parsley

· ½ Teaspoon freshly ground white pepper

· Pinch of sea salt to taste

Directions

1. Mash the avocado with the lemon juice, leaving at bit of chunky texture.

2. Add the herbs and spices into mashed avocado and mix well.

Wash and dry the baby arugula and prepare the English Muffins to get ready for your build.

English Muffins

· 12 English muffins

· 2 Sticks or ½ pound softened (room temperature) European Style Plu Gras Butter

Tip: I sometimes use 1:1 unsalted:salted, depending on how salty you make the rest of your ingredients.

Grill the mushroom caps.

  Burger Build    1.  Split the English muffins and toast both halves.   2.  Spread the bottom muffin half with softened unsalted plugras butter.   3.  Add a small handful of baby arugula onto the butter on the muffin bottom.   4.  Spread the Avocado Herb Mash on the top muffin half   5.  Place the cheese topped mushroom on the arugula   6.  Top the cheese with about a tablespoon of pickled onions  7. Add the top muffin half to finish the burger build

Burger Build

1. Split the English muffins and toast both halves.

2. Spread the bottom muffin half with softened unsalted plugras butter.

3. Add a small handful of baby arugula onto the butter on the muffin bottom.

4. Spread the Avocado Herb Mash on the top muffin half

5. Place the cheese topped mushroom on the arugula

6. Top the cheese with about a tablespoon of pickled onions

7. Add the top muffin half to finish the burger build

 To accompany our Portobello Burger star is the beautiful and delicious medley choir of  Grilled Vegetables and Moroccan Spiced Corn on the Cob.

To accompany our Portobello Burger star is the beautiful and delicious medley choir of Grilled Vegetables and Moroccan Spiced Corn on the Cob.

 The first step in preparing the vegetables is to ready them for the grill. The is corn is cooked with the husk on to impart the flavor of the char-roasting husks into the fresh and delicate kernels of sweet just picked corn, without scorching or drying them out. This is done by carefully pulling back each leaf, leaving them attached to the cob. Once accomplished, remove the silk. Delicately smooth the husk leaves back to their original positions on the cob. Soaking the cobs in water, restored of their husks, will prevent too much burning, allowing the sweet kernels to steam to perfect tender juiciness.    The leeks are split in half or quarts lengthwise, depending on their girth, to allow washing of their sandy interiors. The fennel bulbs, stems and fronds are also sliced lengthwise into halves, quarters or eighths, depending on their bulb circumference, for even cooking. The asparagus are trimmed of the woody ends of their stalks for even cooking and tender eating. If they are very large asparagus, they will need an additional pairing, with a vegetable peeler, of the thickest part of the ends.

The first step in preparing the vegetables is to ready them for the grill. The is corn is cooked with the husk on to impart the flavor of the char-roasting husks into the fresh and delicate kernels of sweet just picked corn, without scorching or drying them out. This is done by carefully pulling back each leaf, leaving them attached to the cob. Once accomplished, remove the silk. Delicately smooth the husk leaves back to their original positions on the cob. Soaking the cobs in water, restored of their husks, will prevent too much burning, allowing the sweet kernels to steam to perfect tender juiciness.

The leeks are split in half or quarts lengthwise, depending on their girth, to allow washing of their sandy interiors. The fennel bulbs, stems and fronds are also sliced lengthwise into halves, quarters or eighths, depending on their bulb circumference, for even cooking. The asparagus are trimmed of the woody ends of their stalks for even cooking and tender eating. If they are very large asparagus, they will need an additional pairing, with a vegetable peeler, of the thickest part of the ends.

 The preserved half lemons are grilled with their cut faces down. Most directions for  preserved lemons  call for them to be cut lengthwise in quarters and require a month to be ready. I preserve mine for 2-3 weeks cut into halves for this presentation and better grilling. You can find many recipes for preserved lemons online, or buy them in jars at gourmet specialty shops or Middle Eastern stores. Recipes often say to use just the rinds, but I often use the whole fruit in my recipes. They are very easy to make. If you can’t find Meyers lemons, just use what you can find. Myers lemons are sweeter and less acidic. In this recipe it does not matter.

The preserved half lemons are grilled with their cut faces down. Most directions for preserved lemons call for them to be cut lengthwise in quarters and require a month to be ready. I preserve mine for 2-3 weeks cut into halves for this presentation and better grilling. You can find many recipes for preserved lemons online, or buy them in jars at gourmet specialty shops or Middle Eastern stores. Recipes often say to use just the rinds, but I often use the whole fruit in my recipes. They are very easy to make. If you can’t find Meyers lemons, just use what you can find. Myers lemons are sweeter and less acidic. In this recipe it does not matter.

  Grilled Vegetables    Ingredients   · Large Asparagus  · Leeks split into halves lengthwise  · Fennel Stalks split into quarters or eighths lengthwise  · Corn on the Cob with husks attached  · Preserved Lemon Halves  · Olive Oil enough to lightly coat the asparagus, leeks and fennel  ·  Marash Pepper Flakes   · Sea salt to taste     Directions   1. Lightly brush asparagus, leeks and fennel with slightly seasoned olive oil to prevent sticking to the grill.  2. Add a sprinkle of Marash pepper flakes for extra color and flavor  3. Carefully pull back the husks of the corncobs, leaving them attached.  4. Remove the silks from the corn  5. Replace the cornhusks onto the corncobs, one by one to cover the kernels well  6. Soak the corncobs so that they resist burning on the grill  7. With a watchful eye, on medium high heat, grill the vegetables and corn, turning as needed until they reach the desired doneness, each vegetable will take a different timing. The fennel will take the longest. The corn takes less time than you think.  Do not over cook the delicate asparagus!   8. Grill the preserved lemons with their cut sides down until grill marks are distinctive.  When the corn is finished roasting, remove the husks to ready them for their adornment of amazingly delectable  Marash Pepper Herbed Goat Cheese & Greek Yogurt Sauce.

Grilled Vegetables

Ingredients

· Large Asparagus

· Leeks split into halves lengthwise

· Fennel Stalks split into quarters or eighths lengthwise

· Corn on the Cob with husks attached

· Preserved Lemon Halves

· Olive Oil enough to lightly coat the asparagus, leeks and fennel

· Marash Pepper Flakes

· Sea salt to taste

Directions

1. Lightly brush asparagus, leeks and fennel with slightly seasoned olive oil to prevent sticking to the grill.

2. Add a sprinkle of Marash pepper flakes for extra color and flavor

3. Carefully pull back the husks of the corncobs, leaving them attached.

4. Remove the silks from the corn

5. Replace the cornhusks onto the corncobs, one by one to cover the kernels well

6. Soak the corncobs so that they resist burning on the grill

7. With a watchful eye, on medium high heat, grill the vegetables and corn, turning as needed until they reach the desired doneness, each vegetable will take a different timing. The fennel will take the longest. The corn takes less time than you think. Do not over cook the delicate asparagus!

8. Grill the preserved lemons with their cut sides down until grill marks are distinctive.

When the corn is finished roasting, remove the husks to ready them for their adornment of amazingly delectable Marash Pepper Herbed Goat Cheese & Greek Yogurt Sauce.

Overhead Portobello Burger and Grilled Fennel Leeks and Presrved Lemon on plate smaller.jpg
  Marash Pepper Herbed Goat Cheese & Greek Yogurt Sauce for Grilled Corn    Ingredients   · 8 Ounces Plain Whole Milk Greek Yogurt  · 4 Ounces Soft Mild Spreadable Goat Cheese  · 2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil  · 2 Tablespoons minced Chives  · 2 Tablespoons minced Italian Parsley  · 1 Tablespoon minced Fresh Mint Leaves  · 1 Tablespoon minced Preserved Lemon Rind  · 1 Tablespoon preserved Lemon Juice/Pulp  · 1 - 1½ Teaspoons Marash Pepper or Crushed Red Pepper Flakes  · 1 Teaspoon ground Coriander  · Crumbled Feta for Garnish -  Feta is used here to replace Jben, the commonly used Moroccan Cheese.      Directions   1. Mix everything  except the Feta  together thoroughly.  2. Pull the and discard the husks from the grilled corn cobs.  3. Roll the corncobs in the spiced sauce to coat each thoroughly.  4. Crumble Feta to garnish the sauced grilled corncobs.    My next post, Part 4 of the  Picnic at Coastal Maine’s Mead Meadow  is the finale to the feast. It will feature my homemade Maine blueberry cheesecake ice cream popsicles with a do-it-yourself dark chocolate magic shell coating. A perfect finish to a sumptuous summer supper al fresco!

Marash Pepper Herbed Goat Cheese & Greek Yogurt Sauce for Grilled Corn

Ingredients

· 8 Ounces Plain Whole Milk Greek Yogurt

· 4 Ounces Soft Mild Spreadable Goat Cheese

· 2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

· 2 Tablespoons minced Chives

· 2 Tablespoons minced Italian Parsley

· 1 Tablespoon minced Fresh Mint Leaves

· 1 Tablespoon minced Preserved Lemon Rind

· 1 Tablespoon preserved Lemon Juice/Pulp

· 1 - 1½ Teaspoons Marash Pepper or Crushed Red Pepper Flakes

· 1 Teaspoon ground Coriander

· Crumbled Feta for Garnish - Feta is used here to replace Jben, the commonly used Moroccan Cheese.

Directions

1. Mix everything except the Feta together thoroughly.

2. Pull the and discard the husks from the grilled corn cobs.

3. Roll the corncobs in the spiced sauce to coat each thoroughly.

4. Crumble Feta to garnish the sauced grilled corncobs.

My next post, Part 4 of the Picnic at Coastal Maine’s Mead Meadow is the finale to the feast. It will feature my homemade Maine blueberry cheesecake ice cream popsicles with a do-it-yourself dark chocolate magic shell coating. A perfect finish to a sumptuous summer supper al fresco!

 Mead Meadow Main House and Patio  A special heartfelt thanks to Angela Olsen Matthews and her husband, Peter Matthews, at  Mead Meadow  for their thoughtful and gracious generosity and hard work in hosting our scrumptious and serene summer picnic. You can visit Angela’s Instagram page @ MeadMeadow      About Mead Meadow    We were invited to historic Mead Meadow, in picturesque Kittery Maine, to shoot our delightful summer outdoor meal. This water front paradise is a restored 140 year old farmstead, originally a 20 acre estate, was called Mead Summer House. Included: the main house, a horse and buggy carriage house, which is now a guest cottage, a boat house and the original well. The lovingly restored buildings are now nestled on 4 acres of manicured grass surrounded by wild and cultivated flowers, raspberry bush stands, shrubbery and original trees. The garden shed was torn down and its beautifully weathered old New England stones have been transformed into a spacious patio surrounded by potted herbs and flourishing flowers, with a bucolic view of the rear grounds and cove.

Mead Meadow Main House and Patio

A special heartfelt thanks to Angela Olsen Matthews and her husband, Peter Matthews, at Mead Meadow for their thoughtful and gracious generosity and hard work in hosting our scrumptious and serene summer picnic. You can visit Angela’s Instagram page @MeadMeadow

About Mead Meadow

We were invited to historic Mead Meadow, in picturesque Kittery Maine, to shoot our delightful summer outdoor meal. This water front paradise is a restored 140 year old farmstead, originally a 20 acre estate, was called Mead Summer House. Included: the main house, a horse and buggy carriage house, which is now a guest cottage, a boat house and the original well. The lovingly restored buildings are now nestled on 4 acres of manicured grass surrounded by wild and cultivated flowers, raspberry bush stands, shrubbery and original trees. The garden shed was torn down and its beautifully weathered old New England stones have been transformed into a spacious patio surrounded by potted herbs and flourishing flowers, with a bucolic view of the rear grounds and cove.